Basketball assists with Special Olympics

Basketball assists with Special Olympics

HONOLULU – The BYU-Hawaii men's and women's basketball teams volunteered at the Special Olympics Oahu Regional Basketball Tournament hosted at Kamehameha Schools Saturday October 15.

Special Olympics Hawaii serves over 3,500 children and adults with intellectual disabilities. They offer training in basketball, bocce, bowling, powerlifting, soccer, softball, swimming and track and field. Golf and tennis are included as demonstration sports. The Summer Games is one of the largest annual competitions, with over 800 athletes from around the state participating in the events. Special Olympics Hawaii depends on the help of over 6,000 volunteers each year who coach, officiate, fundraise and more.

The men's team helped at the morning tournament as referees, timekeepers, and scorekeepers.

"Everyone really enjoyed volunteering last Saturday," freshman Juliun Perkins said. "We felt good knowing that we were able to serve. I would definitely do it again."

The women helped with an adaptive tournament, where mixed teams of children with and without disabilities played together so as to overcome any barrier between the two. They took on the same responsibilities as the men's team as well as handed out awards.

"The highlight of the experience was to see how the players would get excited for each other when they did something well," sophomore Marian Sheikh said. "The kids had fun. If we helped make a difference and helped things run a little bit more smoothly, that's all I can ask for."

Athletes who participate in the Special Olympics have intellectual disabilities, meaning they have limitations in two or more adaptive skills, such as communication, self-care, social skills, fundamental academics and other areas. Special Olympics provides opportunities to develop skills in sports and fitness in addition to life, social, vocational and transitioning skills. Volunteers play an important role in the development of these skills in the participants.